Dear Mr. Walcott,
I have been led to believe by a report by the still-reputable broadcasting institution the BBC that your current predicament arises not from your determination to elicit greater remuneration from your employer, but from your aspiration to play as a centre forward. You say that:
I’ve been judged, with people saying it’s all about money. It’s never been that with me…Playing up front is important. It’s one of the main factors for me.
Well, I shall hold up my hand immediately and admit that I am one of those who has judged you. There are, in fact, several thousand of us who have paid considerable sums of money to gain admittance to the Grove and judge you either infrequently or on a regular basis, as circumstances admit. Let us not forget the thousands more who have made considerable efforts to follow and support their club every week from Jakarta to Reykjavik, and from Lagos to Zurich. Not all of us have formed the same opinion, but I think it is reasonable to suggest that not all of us are convinced by your assertion, or even by your performances on the pitch.
If, as you suggest money is not the issue, but ‘playing up front’ is ‘one of the main factors’, what, pray tell, are the other main factors? Do you require a bus of your own to transport you to away games without the unpleasant distraction of your teammates? Or should the club build a dedicated training facility for your own use?
Are you seriously asking us to believe this has nothing to do with cash? I put it to you that if playing up front is one of the main factors , there are 100,000 other factors per week that you would like to see on offer. But it must have dawned on you by now that this is not going to happen. How does that make you feel? Do you feel genuinely undervalued? If so, then you are certainly one of only two people who hold this view, and the other is your agent (and whether he believes it sincerely or not is irrelevant).
The fact is, Mr. Walcott, you have not ‘learned your trade’ (as you put it) by playing on the wing. There is no doubt that you are a talented player but you are a long way from the finished article. You say you joined the club as a striker. This is half true – you joined the club as a kid. You had potential then, and unlike many I believe you still have potential – but you are not worth £100,000 per week.
It is my view that no footballer is worth £100,000 per week – unless he/she spent his/her spare time conducting ground-breaking medical research or some other significant endeavour, and as far as I am aware, you are not currently engaged in any such activity (children’s books certainly don’t count). I am not so naive as to expect footballers to lobby for a return to the £6 per week maximum wage, but I find it difficult to accept a player turning down £75,000 per week when my own take home salary amounts to the equivalent of £18,000 a year. Of course, £75,000 is a reported figure – I cannot be certain that it is accurate. But comments as reported today are little than a Van Persie-style effort to elicit some measure of sympathy from a disillusioned support base. And, to be honest, you’re going to be about as successful in this attempt as your former teammate was with his.
One final observation: you once remarked that you wanted to emulate Henry and become an Arsenal legend. Henry was a winger who was converted back to a striker by his manager. Henry himself was dubious about the conversion, but he trusted his manager and did as he was asked, rather successfully as it turned out. Unlike Henry, however, you have decided to dispense with the proven judgment of your manager and to try and force his hand by making demands that are not only unreasonable and selfish, but are based on an entirely unrealistic notion of your own worth. I can only conclude that you have either chosen your advisers badly and allowed yourself to be deluded, or that you were already deluded and have advised your representatives accordingly. Either way, you find yourself confined to the bench, and unless you come to your senses, you are welcome to it.
The disappointed Reverend.